The Ancient Art of Arkhelogy: The Importance of the Core Self and Core Writing

Jennifer van Bergen

~ An Appeal to International Educators, Educational Policy-Makers, and Concerned Global Citizens ~

[Note: This is the second part in a seven-part series.]

PART TWO: The Archetypal – The Eternal & Eye of the Soul

One way to explain Arkhelogy is to consider the field of sacred geometry. Ancient Greek philosophers saw the study of geometry and mathematics as a way of accessing the eternal or archetypal.

Robert Lawlor, in his book Sacred Geometry: Philosophy and Practice (Thames & Hudson, Ltd., 1982), distinguishes the “typal,” the “ectypal,” and the “archetypal” (p. 6). A sphere, for example, is the typal; the idea of the sphere is the ecyptal; and the principle or power-activity of the sphere is the archetypal (p. 6). Thus the archetypal is “the process which the ectypal form and typal example of the [sphere] only represent” (p. 6). Lawlor notes:

“A revolving sphere presents us with the notion of an axis. We think of this axis as an ideal or imaginary line through the sphere. It has no objective existence, yet we cannot help but be convinced of its reality; and to determine anything about the sphere, such as its inclination or its speed of rotation we must refer to this imaginary axis” (p. 11).

Lawlor writes:

“Geometric diagrams can be contemplated as still moments revealing a continuous, timeless, universal action generally hidden from our sensory perception” (p. 6). It is only “by virtue of functioning at a certain 'level' of reality that geometry and number can become a vehicle for philosophic contemplation” (p. 6).

The archetypal, according to Lawlor, “is concerned with universal processes or dynamic patterns which can be considered independently of any structure or material form” (pp. 6 & 8).

He writes:

“Modern thought has difficult access to the concept of the archetypal because European languages require that verbs or action words be associated with nouns. We therefore have no linguistic forms with which to image a process or activity that has no material carrier. Ancient cultures symbolized these pure, eternal processes as gods, that is, powers or lines of action through which Spirit is concretized into energy and matter” (p. 8).

The Platonist, according to Lawlor, “sees our geometrical knowledge as innate in us, having been acquired before birth when our souls were in contact with the realm of ideal being” (p. 9). He quotes Thomas Taylor: “All mathematical forms have a primary subsistence in the soul; so that prior to the sensible she contains self-motive numbers; vital figures prior to such as are apparent; harmonic ratios prior to things harmonized; and invisible circles prior to the bodies that are moved in a circle” (p. 9, quoted without citation).

How does this relate to archetypes for writers? Carl Jung believed that archetypes were innate, carried by all humankind, and I have stated my discovery that the global skill of Arkhelogy, or “doing archetypes,” is an inherent ability in all people, but, as Dr. Goodman learned about trance, in order for the archetypes skill to be accessed and utilized, the individual must be trained to use it. As Plato wrote: “all men have difficulty in persuading themselves that it is through these studies, as if with instruments, that one purifies the eye of the soul, and that one causes a new fire to burn in this organ which was obscured and as though extinguished by the shadows of the other sciences, an organ whose conservation is more important than ten thousand eyes, since it by it alone that we contemplate the truth” (Plato, Republic, VII, 527 d, e, quoted in Lawlor, p. 10).

The great French novelist, Marcel Proust, described something similar to Plato's “eye of the soul” when he described what he called a “special sense.” He wrote: “What I should like people to see in my book is that it sprang wholly from the application of a special sense ... which is very difficult to describe (like trying to describe sight to the blind) to those who have never exercised it” (Proust to Camille Vettard, Sept. or Oct. 1922, in Letters of Marcel Proust (1949), Mina Curtiss, ed., p. 477 ).

Proust explained:

“It has to do with drawing a reality out of the unconscious in such a way as to make it enter the realm of the intellect, while trying to preserve its life ... It is a little like the cautious, docile, intrepid effort necessary to someone who, while still asleep, would like to explore his sleep with his mind without this intervention leading to his awakening” (Proust to Editor of “Les Annales,” late 1921/early 1922, Curtiss, p. 382).

Proust also related this special sense to what he called “a species of gymnastic” (Marcel Proust, The Past Recaptured, Andreas Mayor, transl. (Vintage, 1971) p. 159).

He wrote that “the particular and the general lie side by side and [the work of writing] teaches us to pass from one to the other by a species of gymnastic which fortifies us against unhappiness by making us neglect its particular cause in order to gain a more profound understanding of its essence” (p. 159).

This species of gymnastic or special sense is developed through a particular kind of writing work, according to Proust:

The work of the artist, this struggle to discern beneath matter, beneath experience, beneath words, something that is different from them, is a process exactly inverse to that which, in those everyday lives … we live with our gaze averted from ourself ... [This art] alone expresses for others and renders visible to ourselves that life of ours which cannot effectively observe itself and of which the observable manifestations need to be translated and, often, to be read backwards and laboriously deciphered (p. 152).

Leondaro Da Vinci's Mirror Writing

Proust saw this task of doing one’s real writing (although he didn’t use that term) as the expression of one’s real life: “Real life, life at last laid bare and illuminated – the only life in consequence which can be said to be really lived – is literature …” (p. 151).

Continuing, Proust noted (like Goodman) that the “special sense” exists in all people but must be channeled in a particular way to be useful:

“… and life thus defined is in a sense all the time immanent in ordinary men no less than in the artist. But most men do not see it because they do not seek to shed light upon it. And therefore their past is like a photographic dark room encumbered with innumerable negatives which remain useless because the intellect has not developed them” (pp. 151-52).

Proust never identified archetypes, but he wrote that “the writer, long before he thought that he would one day become one, regularly omitted to look at a great many things which other people notice … but all this time he was instructing his eyes and his ears to retain for ever what seemed to others puerile trivialities … simply because [they contained] something renewable, lasting” (p. 155).

He wrote:

“There is a feeling for generality which, in the future writer, itself picks out what is general and can for that reason one day enter into a work of art” (p. 155). Proust identified this as the ability to perceive “birds of augury, mouthpieces of a psychological law” (p. 155). That is, in essence, what one does when one learns how to use archetypes to find one’s characters in the people in one’s life.

Proust understood an important consequence of these principles. He wrote:

“Each artist is a native of an unknown country, which he himself has forgotten ... but remains all his life someone attuned to it” (Proust, The Captive, Andreas Mayor, transl. (Vintage, 1971), p. 347-8).

In part six of this series we will take a look at writing programs currently offered in international schools and we shall see that Arkhelogy is a skill that is neither recognized nor taught in the present international educational environment. We will discuss in part seven how an Arkhelogy Program could be incorporated into school curriculum. Before we do that, however, we will look at premises (part three), the mechanical exercises (part four), and the historical situation (part five).

PART ONE: Arkhelogy: A Gateway to the Self
PART THREE: Some Principles of the Ancient Art of Arkhelogy
PART FOUR: The Arkhelogy Program
PART X: The Arkhelogy Skill: Lost in Time
PART SIX: International High School Writing Programs
PART SEVEN: An Arkhelogy Program for International Schools

Jennifer Van Bergen is an author, educator, and environmentalist currently living in Gainesville, Florida, where she teaches English and Law at Sante Fe College. Van Bergen is a former faculty member of the New School University in NYC, where she taught a course in the Writing Program that she eventually developed into her book Archetypes for Writers: Using the Power of Your Subconscious. Van Bergen is also the author of The Twilight of Democracy: The Bush Plan for America. She has also published several scholarly law articles, including one on the 1801 electoral tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, here. [ ]


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